Managing Your Website Without a Webmaster

If you are thinking about a new website or redesigning your current one it is important to plan ahead.  How will your site be managed?  Who will update phone numbers or page information?  How often do you want to change content?  Do you need to post information for your customers on your site that may change regularly, like business closed dates or hour changes?

The majority of small businesses have the person that designed their website manage changes, but there are a few problems you should be aware of.  First, you may have a good relationship with your designer now, but what happens if that relationship turns sour or your designer seems to drop off the face of the earth?  Gaining access to your site may be extremely difficult or even impossible, leading you to start all over.  This is a real problem that I deal with on a monthly basis and shouldn’t be taken lightly.  All of your website hosting and domain registration should be in your name and you should have all of the passwords and FTP access information – even if you don’t know how to use it.  While this information can be changed by an unscrupulous designer, but at least you are protected if they disappear or you just don’t want to use them anymore.

Second, having your designer make changes to your website can be expensive, especially if your changes come in dribs and drabs.  Most designers have a minimum charge of 1/4 hour, even if a change takes only a minute.  You can save money by making sure you get all the changes (in their final, proofread form!) to the designer at once, but you still have to pay to have those changes made.

Finally, time can be an issue.  Most designers have a full schedule and your changes make take days or even a week to get done.

There are a couple of alternatives that can save you money and allow you to make changes when and where you want.

The simplest option is for those who have just a single area on their site they want to change.  Say you want to post a tip of the day, an upcoming event or put a special “We will be closed for Christmas” notice on your site.  With a simple password-protected form you can edit the text that appears in that specific area and have it appear automatically.  This option can be integrated with a current site with ease and usually costs around $50 to install.

If you want to manage the text and images on any of your pages, then a content management system (CMS) is the way to go.  With a CMS  you can’t change the overall formatting or layout of a page – you just change the content.  You don’t need to worry about learning HTML; the editor generally looks like a word processor and you can apply some formatting (bold, underline, bullets, links, etc) as well as apply built in formatting for headers and titles.

While an existing website can be converted over to a CMS, it is much better (cheaper, easier, faster) to start with a new layout, so this option is for those contemplating a new website or an overall website change.  Depending on the CMS used there can be a learning curve.  I’ve found Joomla difficult to learn to use, while WordPress is very simple and intuitive.  Setting up a CMS will add $350 – $500 to the cost of your website design, but you can make that back fairly quickly if you have a website which you need to change often.

 

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  1. […] [As a reminder, WordPress isn't just a blogging platform anymore – it can be used to power your entire website, allowing you to edit pages and add content yourself.] […]

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